Pakistan authorities forced an Indian military helicopter to land and have taken its four-member crew into custody for violating Pakistani airspace.– File Photo

ISLAMABAD: A spokesman for Pakistan's army said authorities have forced an Indian military helicopter to land and have taken its four-member crew into custody for violating Pakistani airspace.

The helicopter intruded into Pakistani territory in Olding sector in northern Skardu region around 1:00 p.m (0800 GMT).

Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said that the helicopter was forced to land near Skardu, a city in northeastern Pakistan fairly close to the border with India-administered Kashmir.

“The helicopter had come deep into our airspace. It was forced to land. Four Indian army officers have been taken into safe custody. They are safe,” military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas told Reuters.

Abbas said India had been informed of the incident and investigations were underway.

“Our air defence aircraft immediately scrambled into the air and reached the area and forced the helicopter to land,” a Pakistan air force official said.

A military official said a lieutenant-colonel, two majors and a junior commission officer of the Indian army were on board the helicopter and all of them had been detained.

Indian television reports cited army sources saying the airspace violation by the Cheetah model helicopter operated by the 666 Siachen Falcons was not intentional.

The reports said the helicopter entered Pakistan territory during “whiteout” conditions due to snow in the montainous region.

“It was due to bad weather that the Cheetah chopper strayed across the LoC. There was no deliberate attempt to intrude,” the Indian army said in a statement to Times Now television station, referring to the de facto border in the divided Kashmir region known as the Line of Control.

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